The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
(1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa)
An Anders Recruiting Station In South Kazakhstan
On 8 December 1941 General Anders forms the 10th Division and conceives the idea of 28 Pulk Piechoty that would belong to it.
On 19 January 1942 the 28th regiment is formed in Lugovoye (Luhnovaya), Kazakhstan . Recruitment commenced in February in Lugovoye. Subsequent recruitment posts are Tatischevo, Totskoye, Kuibyshev and Koltubanka, Chukov railway line (now Saratov to Orenburg). More info here:https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/10_Dywizja_Piechoty_(PSZ)
Arriving At Lugovoye Camp
Well, one way or another we made it to Lugovoye and located Anders recruitment camp. The snow was thick as we trudged through it. I saw tents with Polish men hanging around them. What a welcome sight that was! We Poles would band together, fight together and once more become great in our homeland!
Eventually we found the main tent where the rallying point was, a red and white Polish flag above it. How our spirits lifted when we saw it as it blew bravely and strongly in the icy wind.
It occurred to me that I was thousands of miles closer to Stanislaw and my children and family and yet I did no know where they were, I felt no closer in spirit to them despite covering vast distances. Ah well, I thought, time to join up to Anders Army and help make some changes that will bring me closer to my family.
Nearby Polish Civilian Camps
Many of the Polish civilians had attached themselves to our camp, thousands of them were in makeshift camps nearby. They did this through a sense of "safety in numbers" and also that we were the only ones they could turn to for help. Daily they came for food, but we had so little anyway that we could not share much.
Large amounts of the civilians were drafted into the army, regardless of age or sex, just so that we could get increased supplies from Russia for the army and thus feed these civilians and keep them from certain starvation.
But this backfired because unwittingly the dysentary, typhus and scarlet fever multiplied. Many died. we buried people daily in shallow graves nearby.
By 1942 only half of the 1.7 million deported Poles were still alive.
Camp Life At Lugovoye
I shared a tent with many other men. We longed for a normal day in Poland but here we were in Bolshevic snow passing time. We trained as hard as we could but Stalins denial of food and decent lodgings had made us weak. We needed good food and plenty of rest if we were to fight again.
Some of the men were very depressed, low in spirit. They were convinced, utterly convinced, that this was a trick of Stalin, that one way or another we would never see free Poland again.
We talked about places we had known and loved. All gone with Russian squatters living there now and a new Russian name given to the town and streets. Stalin had robbed us, of our identity as a nation, our houses, our family, our sanity and even life itself.
But we had to be strong! I was not going to let death take me so easily! I was from peasant stock and yet we knew how to fight for our rights, why even my grandfather Aleksander had fought for Poland! I would too, little Wladyslaw would bring honour back to Poland and his family!
I looked around the tent. The men, apart from appearing malnourished and gaunt did not have any real battle scars to show. And yet, our scars were on the inside, they were gaping, painful, emotional wounds that ravaged us and tortured our souls. What we had seen could not be unseen.
Our souls were sick, we could find no peace with the world. We became moody, silent, depressed and often non communicative. In our angst we were one, we understood each other, no words were necessary, just a grunt or a pat on the back occasionally.
Daily life commenced and in many ways it was similar to being in SevDvinLag in Archangelsk in that it was cold, we lacked warm clothes and food was scarce.
The main difference was that there was no NKVD here, there were no machine guns pointing at us, no-one kicking and beating us, threatening us and making us doubt whether we would live another day.
In Lugovaya it was cold, very cold! Temperatures dropped to -43C and we were expected to train. Rations were poor, we were constantly hungry. At Lugovaya there was stationed "Battalion S". They specialised in parachuting and commando work. This really inspired me and was to lead to me training as a parachutist.
In fact one of my colleagues wrote his account here on page 155: See: http://www.polandinexile.com/newdocs/threadsofhistory.pdf
Soon, new army uniforms arrived. Mine was years old, it had holes everywhere and was a disgrace, barely kept me warm. This lifted our spirits immensely and brought a new identity to us, a new purpose, we were fighting men again!
It was at this time that some of the Polish soldiers became very skilled in making money. They would round up old uniforms, old boots, anything they could get their hands on and they would sell it to locals who being short of the basics of life would happily buy our old things. This made us chuckle a little but it kept us in Vodka and cigarettes.
Generally speaking, those days in the camp at Lugavoye were good, excepting when there was an outbreak of dysentery followed by typhus. We had almost no medical supplies and the men lay in great pain trying to get better. Some died, we buried them nearby as best we could.
News Of The Evacuation Arrives
Although the dysentery, fever and typhus raged through the camp, what went from man to man went faster than this. The word that we were leaving the Soviet Union forever spread like wildfire!